Saturday, December 13, 2008

How the Attorney General of Illinois Lost My Vote

Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General of Illinois has filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order with the Supreme Court of Illinois asking the Court to enjoin Governor Blagojevich "from acting as Governor of Illinois." In her brief, she is relying on the portion of the Illinois Constitution which holds that the Governor shall be replaced by a successor if he "is unable to serve because of death, conviction on impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation or other disability." Her entire case is based on her interpretation of the words "other disability." She claims, and I agree, that it is not limited to mental or physical disability. However, her argument is fundamentally flawed in that it applies to a Governor who is simply impaired in his ability to serve, no unable. Her brief even cites the dictionary definition of "to disable" as "to make unable, unfit, or disqualified." The examples listed in the Illinois Constitution clearly relate to cases where a Governor is literally unable to perform his duties. He is dead, or impeached, or has resigned, or is ineligible to serve. In none of these examples is the Governor simply "impaired" in his ability to serve.

Think of the result if Madigan's interpretation was found to be correct. Then, an accusation of corruption by anyone, or perhaps any accusation of unlawful acts, could lead to the overthrow of a Governor. If the Illinois Constitution wanted one branch of Government (the judiciary) to have such power over another (the Executive), it would be in the Constitution, as impeachment (the power of the legislative branch to have ultimate power over the executive) is.

What angers me is that Madigan must know she will lose. No Judge worth his or her salt is going to vote to remove a Governor based on an allegation, while the Governor is actually still able to fulfill his Constitutional duties. Blagojevich can still make nominations, sign laws, etc. A vast majority of the people might find it in bad taste that he continues to do these things, but that is what elections (and recall elections - if allowed by law) are for. If the legislature does not like an appointment (and if it has approval authority) it can reject it. If it does not like a Veto by the Governor, it can override it.

So Madigan has filed a very significant case she knows is without merit. Why? Politics. And that, while not as bad as Blagojevich's alleged actions, is an abuse of power.

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